After splitting their series against the New York Yankees, which was followed by the 2019 All-Star Break, the Tampa Bay Rays look to continue their winning streak when they start a four-game/three-day series against the Baltimore Orioles, on Friday. Meanwhile, in spite of a pretty lackluster first half, the Orioles, winners three of their last four games, are looking to continue a hot spate of play.
The second-place Rays enter play 6-1/2 games behind the Yankees and led the AL East through June 14. Yet, Tampa Bay is 10-12 since and retain a slender 1/2 game edge over Cleveland for the top AL wildcard spot.
Whether we’re 6 back, 2, 10, we just know each and every day we control our own destiny. We have to beat the teams we’re supposed to beat and we also have to beat the teams that are really good.— Kevin Kiermaier
To Kiermaier’s point, Baltimore is one of those teams they’re supposed to beat, and the Rays have done just that to a large extent this season, going 5-3 over the first eight games of the season series, and outscoring them 42-27 (+15 run differential).
After traveling to Charm City, beginning a stretch in which Tampa Bay will play just 10 of its next 41 games against teams that currently have winning records, the Rays head to the Bronx for a four-game set against New York. The Rays need to use this series to increase the win/loss buffer and get on a hot streak ahead of that important series, which starts Monday.
Over the next three days, Kevin Cash will throw Yonny Chirinos (4-4, 3.15 ERA), Charlie Morton (10-2, 2.32 ERA), Brendan McKay (1-0, 2.45 ERA), and a pitcher to be named before the series finale. Brandon Hyde will counter with Dylan Bundy (4-10, 4.65 ERA), a pitcher to be named before the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader, John Means (5-4, 2.64 ERA), and Andrew Cashner (9-3, 3.83 ERA).
Yonny Chirinos gave up three earned runs on five hits across seven innings, while striking out five and walking one against the Yankees. The right-hander continued his strong first half of the season with a sixth straight quality start, needing 101 pitches (66 strikes, 65% strike rate) to make it through seven frames against a tough Yankees lineup. Over 100 innings this season, Chirinos has emerged as a key component of the Rays’ pitching staff, and now boasts a 3.15 ERA, an impressive 0.99 WHIP, and a 3.68 K/BB.
Dylan Bundy allowed one run on three hits with two walks and six strikeouts over 6-2/3 against the Blue Jays on Friday. Bundy gave up a homer for the ninth time in the last eight games (a solo homer) but allowed just two other hits as he posted his lowest hit total since May 17. Bundy improved to 4-10 with a 4.65 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 96 strikeouts across 91 innings this season. He is 4-5 with a 5.49 ERA in 11 career starts against the Rays, and 18-22 with a 4.45 ERA in 50 starts at Camden Yards. Key Matchups: Avisail Garcia (6-12, 2B, HR, 2 RBI), Kevin Kiermaier (4-14, 2 HR, 6 RBI, BB), Austin Meadows (1-3)
Brendan McKay allowed three runs over five innings on Friday against the Yankees, fanning three while walking none and allowing six hits. McKay gave up a solo homer to Aaron Judge in the first inning and a two-run single to Mike Tauchmann in the fifth. He now owns a strong 2.45 ERA through his first two big-league starts, although his 15.0% strikeout rate is nothing close to the 35.3% mark he managed in Triple-A this season. McKay will be the 26th man and will be recalled on Saturday for the doubleheader.T
Charlie Morton punched out 10 while allowing one run on five hits and one walk across 5-2/3 innings on Sunday. Morton found himself in a pitching duel with James Paxton and prevailed by only allowing a solo home run and generating 13 swinging strikes. Morton has back-to-back starts with 10 or more strikeouts and has a league-leading 83 punch outs on his curveball. Morton’s 2.32 ERA is the best in the American League heading into the second half of the season.
John Means allowed three runs (two earned) on six hits and no walks while striking out five across seven innings Wednesday against Tampa Bay. Means pounded the strike zone, with 71 of his 98 pitches going for strikes (72% strike rate). After throwing only 84 pitches and working five innings in his first start after being activated off the injured list on June 28, Means posted his longest start since May 6. While his 7.5 K/9 isn’t particularly impressive, Means maintains a 1.0 HR/9 and 2.4 BB/9 across 82-2/3 innings this season. As a result, he currently holds a 2.50 ERA and 1.08 WHIP in 2019. Key Matchups: Michael Brosseau (1-3, HR, RBI), Yandy Diaz (1-4, 2B), Avisail Garcia (1-4, RBI), Guillermo Heredia (2-3, 3B), Joey Wendle (1-3)
Andrew Cashner pitched seven innings against the Blue Jays on Saturday, allowing just one run on three hits with four strikeouts and no walks. Cashner was nicked by Cavan Biggio for an RBI single in the fourth inning but otherwise was in complete control. Over his last five starts, Cashner has allowed only four earned runs over 32 innings, lowering his ERA to 3.83 and his WHIP to 1.19. He has a 2.28 K/BB overall. Cashner is 2-1 with a 4.03 ERA in five career starts against Tampa Bay. Key Matchups: Guillermo Heredia (2-8, 2B, 2 BB), Kevin Kiermaier (2-8), Austin Meadows (2-3, 2B), Tommy Pham (3-11, HR, 2 RBI), Joey Wendle (3-8, 3B, 2 RBI, BB)
— Diego Castillo (shoulder soreness) has been activated from the 10-day IL, while Hunter Wood will be recalled before Saturday’s game against the Orioles. In order to make room for them on the active roster, Chaz Roe has been placed on the 10-day IL with a right flexor strain, while Jose Alvarado has been on the IL with a right oblique strain.
— The Rays have promoted outfielder Jesus Sanchez to Triple-A Durham.